28 May A Day In The Life Of Baz
Meet Basil! A Nala Hub Hero
Meet Basil! Or Baz as he is affectionately known. Baz usually starts work at 8:15am when he runs up to the Killarney Heights office to greet his league of co-workers one by one. Baz is a therapy dog and after studying hard to qualify, he knows exactly what his job description entails.
With his soulful eyes and long lashes, Baz knows how to turn on the charm and make visitors to Nala Hub feel welcome and at ease. Anyone is welcome to pat Baz and he makes sure to greet everyone as they arrive. He loves a snuggle and will often roll over for a tummy rub.
Over the past 12 months Baz has regularly attended our child, adolescent and family psychology practice and he has brought such joy and love to the Nala team and clients. He has been worth his weight in gold and is the proud Nala Hub mascot. He is our secret weapon that has brought a cohesive and animal loving team of professionals to our practice.
Baz and Michelle (mum by night, work buddy by day), attended Lead the Way therapy assist training in 2019. After completing the course they were accredited to work as a visiting therapy assist dog team. When he started school, Baz was your typical fluffy enthusiastic pooch! He found it incredibly difficult to wait, heal and basically be under control when hanging out with other dogs and new people. The training program assisted Baz to understand and practice acceptable dog manners, manage urges to bark, run off and do regular pooch things like chewing on other people’s toys, sneaking treats from the floor and chasing birds.
We are often asked ‘how does dog therapy work?’. The role of Baz is to react and respond to people other than Michelle. This is different from a service dog as they are trained to ignore others and focus on their owners needs. Baz is encouraged to greet people. His training, nature and manners allows him to stay mostly regulated and under the control of his handler/team member.
We understand that attending your first psychology session can be incredibly stressful. This is especially true if you have underlying anxiety, are fearful of meeting new people or being in different environments. Having a friendly attentive dog at hand can really help people feel immediately comfortable. We are also aware that some people are not comfortable around dogs, so Baz is under supervision at all times. Baz can sometimes help people overcome their fear of dogs by using a stepped graded exposure approach. Just speak with your clinician and they can arrange for Baz to be involved.
The saying ‘a man’s best friend’ refers to the special bond that can occur between a person and a dog. This strong bond or attachment can trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin that increases the feelings of trust and love in humans. Numerous studies have found that therapy dogs can assist humans to manage in stressful situations by reducing physiological arousal. Research has also shown that there are many positive effects of therapy dogs on health, emotional benefits, increase in social confidence and overall wellbeing.
When Baz is in the waiting room, the energy and happiness levels lift. Often, he will have lots of people talking and connecting on the topic of pets. When Baz is working in the consult room, he can really assist in the early stages of therapy to build the therapeutic relationship. Baz naturally provides behavioural feedback to common social interactions that can help clients to learn pro-social skills, develop understanding and empathy through role play, to feel safe, and make it easier to have hard conversations.
Baz can sense when there is a change of emotion in the clinic and he will often come up to the clients feet and look up to see if they need some company or comfort. Baz can also sense when he is not required to participate in session, and will head off for a little snooze.
If you see Baz at Nala Hub, working hard or hardly working just know that he would love you to come up and give him a pat. He would even appreciate a little smile and a wave!